• Chrissie Nicholson-Wild

EL Wire Pole Costume

Updated: Jan 21

Revised and updated 21/1/2022


pole artist doing the splits, pole dancing wearing an EL wire costume
photo by The Image Cella, performer Chloe Anderson

Every so often one of your favourite clients wants you to make the coolest costume that literally makes you fist bump the air....this was one of those costumes!


Chloe Anderson, incredible pole artist and teacher contacted me after I posted up a robot inspired mood board on Instagram and commissioned me to create a pole costume that lit up.


Well that got me wired!


Then she told me that we only had three weeks until performance day...….ack!


Design Process

I took inspiration from the original moodboard and get sketching my ideas down. First I sketch put as many ideas as I can, and then start eliminating the weakest ones and keeping the strongest ones to develop further. This is one of the designs I liked the most...but it wasn't the one Chloe picked in the end.



Chloe wanted to stick very closely to one of the costumes on the moodboard, and with a bit of too and froing on whatsapp we had a working idea of our costume, a budget and even picked out the boots to go with.


Once the design was set I had just over two weeks to execute the design ready for show day. The next step was doing a bit of research and ordering the materials required. I had never used electrics in a costume before so I had a lot of research to do and very little time to pull it all together.




Materials and Making

Chloe wanted to use PVC as the main fabric. It is slick and sexy and matched her pole heels. Pole costumes, like all dance costumes need to be able to stretch so the dancer can move fluidly, so I needed to use a combination of lycra and PVC fabrics strategically.


Sometimes synergy just happens, and that was the case with this costume....it just seemed to flow and develop itself. Until the electrics arrived anyway...

I usually have a good grasp of what I need to do in advance, and I searched online to find tutorials and information. I knew this one was going to stretch my skills, but I was pretty sure I could figure it out.




Resources

I found some really great information online on how to use EL wire in costumes. The most useful resources were Adafruit and Enlightened.


I decided to use two different types of EL wire. Insert piping has the wire is encased in clear plastic and a lip that can be sewn within the seam of the garment for the neatest possible finish and I decided that this would work very well on the jacket collar. Then I used EL wire sewn on directly for other corset and suspender belt details.


Final fitting

Final fitting took place just under a week before deadline. I needed to check the fit of the whole costume and test the parameters of the costume to check the costume for flexibility and comfort. The costume has to be danced in so there are a lot more things to think about than if a model is just walking and posing and it has to be far more robust.

  1. the costume needed to stretch in the right places but stay in place

  2. the jacket needed to house the battery pack so we needed to figure out where that should be placed

  3. the suspender belt needed to clip onto the boots and not ping off.

After checking the costume, and giving it a test run my part was done. It was now up to Chloe to perform her routine.





Here is the final costume in action, worn by pole artist and teacher Chloe Anderson. Photograph by The Image Cella.




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